Very proper pants

Ok, so this is a continuation of the previous project and my recent Ginkgo top, even though the sequence of events was supposed to have been opposite 🙂 Pants were meant to come first and the top would go second, but well, it was not the case. After extensively cumbersome Ginkgo top project, I somehow managed to keep concentration and went ahead with the intended pants project. This was not an easy make. At times I found myself tempted to not bother with pants and instead jump straight onto some of the beautiful planned projects. But, as I shared in my previous post, I am awkwardly stubborn when it comes to finishing what’s been started, so here we go – pants it was!

Just to recap on how I found myself with a burning need to make these pants, it was this black twill suiting that should be blamed! I bought 4 meters of it more than a year ago, bought so much because it was a good deal and I figured there must be ways to use up pure wool in winter. I purchased this fabric with the purpose of first making my Festive Christmas dress. After that project, a bit less than 2 meters of wool remained, so when this winter started approaching, I decided to make pants for once, and from whatever would be left, I’d make the top. It happened so that the leftover top got completed first because I was dreading to start working on pants. And now with hindsight I have to admit that the pants project was less intimidating than I had anticipated. Not that it was overly enjoyable – it wasn’t much, but it was a decent project which produced a very proper pair of pants. When I completed them and tried them on, I was like – “that’s cool, these pants look like they were made for me!” Which they of course are. After this project I ended up concluding that it makes a lot of sense to make pants. It might not be as enjoyable as making some fancy dress, but those pants will most likely be worn much, and that’s a reason good enough for me.

When the idea was born to make pants, I did quite a research of pants patterns and tried to determine which pants designs would fit me best. The list was fairly long, and at first I had decided to go ahead with Just Patterns Tatjana trousers. Bought the pattern, cut it out, looked at it intently and then… changed my mind. The reason for my doubt was related with size and style choice. My body proportions are inconvenient in one way – I am mostly of the same size from shoulders to hips, except for waist, which is wider than standard for that particular size. This does not have any implications if a garment is not fitted around waist, I then just ignore waist measurement and decide on the size looking at bust and hips measurements only. But for the pants waist measurement is key. So for any pants, if my hips are size 8 for example, then waist must be size 10 or even 12 at times. And so when pockets, pleats and other pants stuff was involved, I was suddenly unsure how to grade in between sizes to accommodate for my relatively wider waist. Tatjana trousers feature two front pleats on each side and welt pockets made on top of darts at the back. It seemed to be a lot of risk to start messing around with size grading. Also, with my relatively wider waist I was unsure how those wide leg pleated trousers would fit me. That’s how Tatjana trousers went into the drawer.

Instead I decided to find less complex pattern, maybe without pleats, but still featuring high waist and wide leg. Ended up settling on one of Burda designs. Inconveniently, this pattern was drafted for tall women – 175 cm and up. My height is 164 cm, so I had an additional consideration to go through in that whether it would be enough to just shorten the pants, or other proportions would also need to get adjusted. I did not know an answer to this question so decided to make a toile. Initial paper pattern was cut in size 38. After inspecting the toile, I had to conclude that multiple changes will need to happen. Am still not sure which of them were impacted by the fact that initial pattern was drafted for taller height. Essentially, I had to go one size down. Decided to take in 0.5 cm for each seam, crotch had to be raised up a bit, and I suspected that the waistband might need to get lower, but decided to leave that decision for later, when actual pants get made. Still a bit uncertain about all of my observations, I cut into the fabric.

The only useful advice that I took from Burda instructions this time was a really clever way of making symmetric creases for both legs. The trick here is, before doing anything else, to fold front leg pieces lengthwise wrong sides together and press the front crease. When the pants get made, this front crease would be used as a guide to press back creases. Otherwise, this time like in many other cases I did not use Burda instructions at all – they are too unclear to me.

Actual stitching started with installing the pockets. It immediately became clear that the pattern was not drafted all that well, because pattern pieces were not matching each other. I dislike Burda patterns in one respect – I miss all those alignment notches that other commercial patterns offer for more accurate pinning and sewing. With Burda patterns it’s always like – “yeah, that more or less matches, should be about right”. Normally I like to be more certain than “that’s about right”. When both pocket pieces got sewn together, I decided to apply decorative bias tape to finish pocket edges. After inspecting my haberdashery stash, I found this narrow pink bias tape that was bought few years ago, and decided to go ahead with pink – love how it looks on a pitch black fabric!

Then the time came to stitch leg pieces together. At first crotch seam was made and then I basted side seams in order to try the garment on an get the first impression of the fit. Everything looked good, so I stitched crotch seam twice for durability and finished side seams. Next stage was to install waistband. That’s where drafting inaccuracies started appearing again. I had to narrow down waistband pattern pieces by various extent. Back piece was taken in by 1 cm on each side – looks like a significant patterning inaccuracy, if you ask me. After few iterations of stitching, ripping, narrowing down, stitching again, I finally made the waistband work and it went in. The time for the main reality check approached. When I tried my pants on, it became clear that they looked fine indeed. The only further adjustment was to make the waistband sit a bit lower than initially intended – before this adjustment the waist was too high for my liking. I fixed that by stitching waistband facing with 2.5 cm seam allowance instead of 1.5 cm. It worked fine.

Next was the zipper – it had to go into the side seam. That bit was not overly smooth – unexpectedly I had to fiddle a bit with it, but eventually managed to make it right. Then the unfinished edge of the waistband facing got finished with the same pink bias tape and I secured it by stitching in the ditch from the right side. To carefully stay in the ditch I used special presser foot that has a small notch at the bottom of the foot that falls into the ditch and allows the foot to stay in it. When that was done, my pants were mostly complete and I finally was able to assess the real fit. I was really happy with how the pants were fitting me! My excessive deliberation with this project and also this small black series of projects started paying off.

The last bit of work was to hand tack the corners of pocket flaps in place so that they would not move around, and finally – hem the pants. I had decided in the very beginning that these pants would be meant to be styled with heels. I always wanted to have pants that would be of exactly appropriate length to look nice with heels. And it was impossible to find pants of this specific length in stores. Luckily, now it was no longer a problem as I could choose the length that I fancied. Specifically I chose 8.5 cm heels that I own few pairs of, and the measuring of pants length started. It was a tedious process. When I finally managed to pin both hems about right, it became quite clear that my legs are somehow disproportionate. It is not that one leg is shorter than the other – I have a normal gait, nothing wrong with my legs. But probably due to my posture or something else, in order for pants to APPEAR of equal length, the left leg must be made a touch shorter than the right leg. I have known this peculiarity for a long time. This time around it was actually possible to conclude BY HOW MUCH left leg must be shorter, and that is a bit more than 5 mm. Maybe 6-7 mm. This time around I settled on 5 mm. I finished the hem by hand stitching it.

Finally, oh finally I was done with this black fabric. And the time came to pair my new pants with the leftover ginkgo top and see whether or not I was right from the very beginning in believing that this duo should actually look nice. And so – IT DOES! Maybe even too much 🙂 My initial intention was to wear this outfit to the office. Since it’s all wool except for ginkgo sleeves, I thought that finally I would not feel cold in the office. Now it starts to occur to me that I again might have made something that is a bit too much for a regular day in the office. I don’t know – what do you think?

As another styling option, I tried my neon sleeveless top that I made last year. Its story is told in the post about too much fabric. I really like this style! However, it is almost impossible I’d wear these two together – the top is, well, small and cold, pants are warm. So nope, unless I’d find a short black blazer or maybe a cardigan to put on to feel at least marginally warm.

For these pants I needed some 1.5 meters of premium wool twill suiting that was purchased from Fabworks online store. Pattern used here was from Burda 2021/04 magazine, it is pattern #118, I cut it in size 38 but had to reduce it quite a bit. Other notions were: 20 cm invisible zipper, a bit of interfacing, few meters of pink bias tape, and black thread. These pants cost me just 15 Eur – that is why I had bought that black fabric in the first place! They were made in December, 2021.

Even though it was not a super enjoyable project, even though I was annoyed by how many adjustments were needed and how much patterns pieces were not matching each other, I am absolutely happy with my new pants! The fact that they were made to fit with 8.5 cm heels might be a bit of a limiting factor to wear them often as I do not own warm winter shoes with such a high heel (they’d be meant to get to the office where I would change to pumps). Well, I can always purchase one more pair of shoes, right? I’m saving so much by sewing all these clothes for myself! 😀

Am sure, these pants will be worn with huge delight. Retrospectively, I probably should have made more pants or pants and a blazer out of this fabric instead of going places with the dress and ginkgo top. This fabric is true and ultimate suiting, it is not really meant for dresses. Even though I like my Festive Christmas dress, fabric choice for it now appears questionable. But hey, that’s what the learning journey entails! Love my new pants! Will have to make more pants in the future, for lower heels too. As I wrote in my recent post on why you should start sewing – any type of choice or extravagance is possible when you sew for yourself!

Thanks for checking out this post and make sure to come back for more!

~Giedre~

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